Ask Wine Wizard

Chitosan, dry climate grapes: Wine Wizard

TroubleShooting

A
Shellfish and chitosan We’ve all heard of comments about sulfites or phenolic compounds causing headaches, but I use chitosan and kielsosol for clarifying agents. Chitosan is made from shellfish byproducts — could these cause an allergic reaction (headaches?) to those who are allergic to shrimp or lobster? Ray Ruthenberg Woodbine, Illinois Though I’m no medical doctor (I seem to say that a lot in this column), from what research I was able to pull together, if I personally had a shellfish allergy I would feel comfortable using chitosan products to clarify my wine. I will let you make up your own mind (in conference with your physician of course), but from what I understand, seafood allergies derive from proteins in crustaceans and shellfish, not from materials in their shells. Chitosan is a manufactured product that is derived from chitin in the shells, a natural polymer. During the manufacturing process, the shells only (no fleshy protein bits) are used, and any protein that could possibly be clinging is removed. Chitosan is a great flocculating agent in wines. It precipitates solids and